By Quentin Fottrell
You may have seen a version of those viral royal name-change games doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. They ask: “What’s your royal wedding guest name?”
Internet security firm Sophos, which often goes over-the-top chronicling all manner of entertaining and colorful threats, has cautionary words for those of you who want to play. This potential breach to your personal security doesn’t come via a rogue third party who wants to steal your personal digits from your Sony PlayStation account, but from a well-meaning friend.
“In honor of Britain’s royal wedding…” the game begins. It asks you to change your name to Lord/Lady, one of your grandparents’ first names and, lastly, asks for your first pet’s name and the street you grew up on for or a double-barreled surname. Sophos says it could be a boon for cyber thieves, especially if you use these names for passwords or security questions.
Thousands of social networkers have been Tweeting the results or posting it on their Facebook pages, and re-sending it to other friends, asking them to do the same. Sounds like a fun game, right? Well, it is if you have lots of time on your hands, or even a few minutes between video conference calls with Europe or color-coordinating your collection of paper clips.
But stop for a moment. How many people use their pet’s name as a password for their email accounts? Or the street they grew up on as an answer to security questions to enable them to access their email in the event that they forgot your password? Most websites like Yahoo ask questions like these as security questions to access email accounts.
Graham Cluley, technology consultant at Sophos advises: “Don’t post this kind of personal information onto the internet. The few seconds worth of amusement you may get by telling people your royal wedding guest name is not worth the potential pain of having your identity stolen.” He also suggests lying when sites ask questions to reset your password.
It may sound far-fetched or paranoid, but a week ago critics might have said that about the risks for 77 million PlayStation users. Would you be okay posting this information on the web?